As an avid lover of fashion and diversity, I would be game for experimenting with almost anything that designers throw in the path of consumers; playing around with vibrant trends and eclectic pieces all encompassing that experimentation. However, one thing that I’ve avoided time and time again – without fail – is joining the incessant queues of designer/high-street collaboration launches. Regardless of how much I’d love to see the newly-designed pieces up-close, the thought of spending long hours outside a store entrance, caught in that drawn-out calm before the storm – waiting until all hell breaks loose when the main doors creak open, as fashion-crazed demons swamp the collection stands, piling as much into one bag as possible and cat-fighting over that last pair of gold heels – is enough to make me shun the idea altogether. While I admire the resilience of bloggers & fashionistas that arrive, armed with a determined gaze, at 5am to queue for the first picks, it isn’t something I could ever envisage managing. Even if I had the skill, the desire to wait and pounce would be non-existant (this could be helped, however, by the fact that by some stroke of luck, I’ve always managed to pick up lovely collaboration pieces even a couple of days after the initial launch. Memorably, there was one occasion where I arrived in Milan a couple of months after to find reduced Versace for H&M garments).
Such was my surprise, then, that when I heard one of Shutterbug’s famously-populous Kilo Sales would be taking place on Saturday the 24th (with queues to be expected) I wasn’t the slightest bit dissuaded in arriving at the venue well on-time, perhaps even an hour or so before the sale initiation, to queue and chat to fellow fashion-lovers about the impeding event. Perhaps this was due to the fact that my love for the Kilkenny-based boutique and its online incarnation Folkster had blossomed quite recently (you can read my Boutique Bijou write-up of the shop “here”) and I was still at that initial stage of infatuation where you feel as if you can do anything – even face down your greatest fears – for that person, or in this case, that shop. So I fell asleep with positive thoughts of the next day in my head, only to run late for the event and arrive at the sale a few minutes after the doors opened, with not a queue in sight. Perhaps fate does have a way of working out for the best!
As I turned off Baggot Street in making my initial approach to the venue, the monochrome signage of Moxie Studios luring me in the distance, I was joined by a small crowd of fellow tardy fashionistas. Following the Shutterbug arrows to a stone, lime-green entrance gate, I walked through an urban car-park that housed Thai food & coffee stalls. While the scents caught in the air were enticing, the area was otherwise deserted, and I knew greater things lay ahead. Walking up the ramp that would take me inside the studios, I plunged head-first into a swarming world of sequins:
The entrance room was host to Folkster‘s pop-up shop, the colour-bursting jewellery and sparkly dresses gorgeously contrasting the painted brick walls and edgier interiors. Through dark-blue, pulled back curtains you could see the unfolding female mass, arms laden down with clothes and dashing from one rail to another, but I decided to take a look around the room before diving straight into the kilo sale. Reduced, studded Jeffrey Campbells and iridescent Miistas made notable appearances (a floral, velvet ankle boot from the latter’s new collection threatened to steal the show altogether) and a rail of prints and embellishment was showcased courtesy of London’s very own Sister Jane. Costume jewellery and blooming flower crowns were pegged on metal mesh, jewelled cuffs and neon beanies draped over pristine white tables. An entire section was devoted to Paris-sourced fur coats, with sparkling furry jumpers thrown into the mix: every rail & display that was showcased made a statement. A beaded fringe necklace caught my eye – as well as the perspex box full of vibrant €1 floral bangles – but I was adamant to persevere and nab some vintage, sequin-embellished (do you see a pattern forming here..?) bargains before anyone else could. With a determination that rivalled those coffee-fuelled fashionistas in 5am queues, I stepped over Shutterbug’s kilo sale threshold..
Inside was an environment so fast-paced that I barely had the opportunity to snap concrete shots, lest I get swept away by the constantly-moving crowds. Garments were picked up, scrutinised and dropped or snatched up in seconds, and soon, myself and everyone around me had their arms laden down with vintage clothes. With such a volume of rails on-offer, there was a plethora of little gems to pick up – I gravitated towards a few sequin-filled sections when I first entered the kilo space and managed to acquire most of my vintage finds from those rails alone (though I did locate some gorgeous, non-embellished pieces in other areas later on). But perhaps most surprising of all was the mentality of the kilo sale’s clientele. I naturally expected to find a rather competitive ethos in parallel to what I had seen with collaboration launches, yet while people did have a determination in their goal of sourcing vintage bargains, there were no cat-fights or garment tug-o-wars in sight. It was definitely a pleasant surprise as to how non-begrudging fellow shoppers were – I chatted away to a lovely girl while we browsed the same section, both of us wishing each other good luck with the rest of the kilo sale when we moved away from the rail, and another woman in front of me in the shopping queue praised one of my clothing discoveries, a gorgeous pastel blue fur coat shot with cobalt (not to be revealed in this post as I’m making some adjustments to it, but very soon!), and gave me tips on future kilo sales as this was her fourth time attending one. There was major camaraderie between us bargain-hunters, and it felt seriously refreshing. We hadn’t become enemies looking to out-do each other in the name of fashion – if anything, the whole kilo sale experience had simply brought like-minded people together.
Regarding logistics of the sale, at a certain point I found that if I browsed any more rails, the load I was hauling along would be excessive, and decided against it – there’s no shame in not covering all grounds, especially when the territory is so abundantly-stocked. Even though, as I mentioned above, I reaped the majority of rewards from browsing heavy-embellished clothing rails that seemed alluring from afar, I made sure not to discard sections that looked less colour-bursting or generally enticing (the most incredible, undiscovered bargains can be found lurking behind non-statement grey jackets or cotton sundresses). At one point I found lugging around all the clothes I’d unearthed – including that rather heavy fur coat – to be pretty taxing, even with a shopping companion helping me, but luckily one of the hi-vis attendants came to the rescue by handing me a large bag to carry my wares and even helped me pour them in of his own accord. If you find yourself in a similar struggle next time, be sure to locate an assistant and ask for one – they make a huge difference in balancing the weight of what you’re carrying, and subsequently sorting out what you will or won’t purchase to while away time in the shopping queue. I took quite a risk not trying on the clothes beforehand, but they were serious bargains and it was easy to assess their size, plus any coats, jackets or jumpers could be thrown on seamlessly outside of fitting rooms.
Fortunately, I was victim to only one form of queue that day – a 15 minute
wait to be served was miles away from 4 hour queuing systems in the freezing cold, however, plus it was interesting to see how exactly they managed weighing the clothes. Blanaid Hennessy, co-founder and buyer for Shutterbug, was clad in a vivid green Sister Jane jacket over her monochromatic, chiffon-y ensemble, and was all hands on deck alongside her team in loading literal kilos of sale garments onto electronic weighing scales and calculating final prices. I left Moxie Studios with two bags full-to-the-brim with coveted items (one housing just the faux fur coat) that each pack an incredible punch in my wardrobe:
Two words instantly appeared in my head when I first spotted this blouse: Meadham Kirchhoff. That red-aqua colour combination was the core palette focus for the London design duo’s A/W 2011 collection, and it’s a shade pairing that’s especially close to my heart. The mint scalloped lace detailing is a gorgeous touch, particularly on the collar & sleeve edges – amazingly, you can adjust how tight or loose each sleeve is, using the red woollen threads. The blouson is quite sheer, so I’d be inclined to wear it underneath pinafores and bright tweed shifts in autumnal weather – you could even contrast the piece by giving it a more futuristic look, paired with a blue/grey metallic skirt or trousers that would really focalise the silver buttons.
This two-tone knit top has such a 90s, Clueless vibe, I’m regarding it fondly as one of Cher‘s long-lost relics; and not resisting the urge to pair it with a tartan, pleated skirt in complimenting shades. I especially love the simple-yet-impactful embroidery detail, and could picture sporting the top with all-black to bring it more up-to-date.
This was one of the little gems I spotted through a rail of less eye-catching pieces; from the gorgeous olive shades shot through the silk taffeta-like texture, to its entirely unique print of well-dressed ‘families’ dancing front-to-back and over the sleeve fabric, it was one garment I simply couldn’t justify leaving behind. The slouchy-yet-flattering cut equals effortless styling, as it has generally versatile suitability for wherever you don it. I wore it while travelling to London with a pair of black velvet leggings and Deena & Ozzy studded sandal flatforms, to prioritise style and comfort in equal measures, but sporting it with a pair of black leather jeans and edgy stilettos would probably give it the ultra-glam platform it deserves – and the monochrome palette would ensure the piece gets undivided spotlight time.
One of my heavily-sequinned beauties, I love how the top shows no fast-fashion characteristics: the piece is covered in holographic sequins from back to front, as opposed to just one side to skive on finances (which is sadly the case with certain popular high-street giants). I wore the garment with a Zara floral mini skirt and white tuxedo jacket to attend one of Miista‘s sample sales a couple of days ago (which I’ll be writing about quite soon), and the look masterfully pulled off, somehow making rainbow sequin-covered, metallic-edged tops an acceptable daytime option for wandering the streets of London. You couldn’t deny the piece some time underneath disco balls, however, as it was clearly born in that era for a sole purpose – the least I could do would be to pair it with additional metallics and sport it on a night out, or even clubbing, so I could show off its partying heritage!
This is undoubtedly one of my favourite Kilo Sale pieces to have uncovered- the flapper dress is unbelievably flattering, and its fringe details swish marvellously whenever I walk, the delicate, iridescent sequins found among the fringing catching the light beautifully. It truly is one of those garments where you don’t even need to work out a suitable outfit accompaniment; it deserves all the attention, so pairing it with a simple pair of heels would suffice (you could edge things up a little by sporting a black, studded leather jacket, but it’d be taking the look in a different direction). You could still catch the remnants of Gatsby fever that was circling at the start of summer by wearing the piece on a night out, but that would only be a bonus – “in” or “out” of current fashion trend analysis, the dress is an undeniable show-stopper.
I thought I would save the best for last, and that is certainly merited with this gold maxi dress . Whether shown under blaring lights or delicate sunlight, the hologram sequin discs and metallic fabric manage to be utterly captivating – the dress is so vibrant in reality, you couldn’t tear your eyes away easily. The dress has a gorgeous mid-thigh slit on one side, which I originally hadn’t known (funnily enough, I had planned to create one when I first saw it) and channels that current desire to slit maxi dresses to the thigh and show some leg. Regarding outfit options, there’s nothing to elaborate on really: all black accompaniments is all one needs here, or perhaps picking one of the shades that shines through those kaleidoscopic discs. Regardless of how you style it, however, the dress would undoubtedly make going out one night to remember – if you can tear yourself away from the mirror, that is!
As I sauntered back down Lad Lane, arms laden down through with two vintage-filled bags, I marvelled at how Shutterbug had managed the impossible for so many designer & high-street launches – putting the words ‘amicable’ and ‘fast-paced’ in the same fashion environment with no traces of conflict. It was clear to see that sale newcomers and faithful kilo purveyors were charmed alike, and I’ve no doubt that the next event will bring an equally abundant wave of fashion-hungry – but friendly - vintage lovers. Shutterbug’s Kilo Sales happen bi-annually at the very least (up to four times a year) and are interspaced between locations in Dublin and the vintage boutique’s resident town, Kilkenny. To keep fully up-to-date with potential date releases and general vintage offerings, you can follow Shutterbug on Facebook & Twitter - and if you desire some instantaneous, vibrant purchases, check out online favourite Folkster.com if you haven’t already. With the next Kilo Sale set to descend before Christmas, Shutterbug does an incomparable job in bringing exciting global initiatives to an island of fashion-eager residents – it’s little wonder that many mould their fashion calendar around these awe-striking events. ♥